Designing A Business: Find Your Customers First

A recent post from BusinessWeek Online reminds us that when starting a business, the Field of Dreams approach – “Build it and They Will Come” – is entirely the wrong approach: instead we should first go out and find one or more customers, at the earliest possible opportunity.

This may be, perhaps, before we even have a product: we could or should see if we can sell the product on concept – and change the concept if we can’t.

As Guy Kawasaki put it in his excellent bible for bootstrappers The Art of the Start: The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything, the hardest thing about getting started is getting started, and the important thing is to get going, by which he means explicitly

. . . not to fire up Word to write a business plan, launch PowerPoint to craft a pitch, or boot Excel to build a financial projection. Wrong, wrong, wrong! . . . There’s a time for using all three applications, but it’s not now . . . [Instead you should be] building a prototype, writing software, launching your Website, or offering your services. You should always be selling – not strategizing about selling . . . Don’t wait to develop the perfect product or service. Good enough is good enough.

Kawasaki exhorts us to “design different”:

  1. Focus on a product, service or need where you wanted or needed one and it’s not available, where your employer needs one and its not available, or where things could and should be done better. That is, start as close to the typical customer as possible – ideally by being a typical customer for the product or service, or working for someone who is.
  2. Use prototypes extensively, get feedback at the earliest stage, get it to customers/market, and iterate frequently

BusinessWeek, and Kawasaki, are explicitly or implicitly advocating a design approach for building your business model and business products and services by, consciously or otherwise, applying design principles: adopting a customer-centered, iterative approach where both customer/user feedback and design constraints are incorporated into the design approach and design process from the outset in order to facilitate the development of a design that is highly fitted to the user needs (or, in the case of business, to the needs of the market).

Similar principles apply, of course for business at the big end of town: the modern business will not invest the considerable resources required for product development without first doing marketing market demographic analysis, focus groups, and other research to demonstrate that there is a market for the proposed product.

Sorry, comments are closed for this post.

Designing A Business: Find Your Customers First

A recent post from BusinessWeek Online reminds us that when starting a business, the Field of Dreams approach – “Build it and They Will Come” – is entirely the wrong approach: instead we should first go out and find one or more customers, at the earliest possible opportunity.

This may be, perhaps, before we even have a product: we could or should see if we can sell the product on concept – and change the concept if we can’t.

As Guy Kawasaki put it in his excellent bible for bootstrappers The Art of the Start: The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything, the hardest thing about getting started is getting started, and the important thing is to get going, by which he means explicitly

. . . not to fire up Word to write a business plan, launch PowerPoint to craft a pitch, or boot Excel to build a financial projection. Wrong, wrong, wrong! . . . There’s a time for using all three applications, but it’s not now . . . [Instead you should be] building a prototype, writing software, launching your Website, or offering your services. You should always be selling – not strategizing about selling . . . Don’t wait to develop the perfect product or service. Good enough is good enough.

Kawasaki exhorts us to “design different”:

  1. Focus on a product, service or need where you wanted or needed one and it’s not available, where your employer needs one and its not available, or where things could and should be done better. That is, start as close to the typical customer as possible – ideally by being a typical customer for the product or service, or working for someone who is.
  2. Use prototypes extensively, get feedback at the earliest stage, get it to customers/market, and iterate frequently

BusinessWeek, and Kawasaki, are explicitly or implicitly advocating a design approach for building your business model and business products and services by, consciously or otherwise, applying design principles: adopting a customer-centered, iterative approach where both customer/user feedback and design constraints are incorporated into the design approach and design process from the outset in order to facilitate the development of a design that is highly fitted to the user needs (or, in the case of business, to the needs of the market).

Similar principles apply, of course for business at the big end of town: the modern business will not invest the considerable resources required for product development without first doing marketing market demographic analysis, focus groups, and other research to demonstrate that there is a market for the proposed product.

Sorry, comments are closed for this post.